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FDIC Consumer News
Updates and Reminders
Are You Getting the Best Deal?
Are you paying (or about to begin paying) a monthly fee for your checking account or higher costs for certain services, such as debit card transactions? FDIC Consumer News wants to remind readers that there are ways to limit or avoid checking account fees.
Start by asking your bank about other accounts that may waive certain fees if, for example, you keep a minimum balance or use direct deposit. Also, shop around for better deals. Learn more about how to keep costs down in a special edition of FDIC Consumer News (the Spring 2011 issue) entitled "Shop and Save...at the Bank" (www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnspr11).
Should You Refinance?
Homeowners who are considering refinancing their mortgage loan at historically low interest rates are reminded to make sure that doing so will save them enough money to justify the costs of a new loan. For guidance, see our article on mortgages in the Spring 2011 FDIC Consumer News (www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnspr11/mortgages.html).
Also, for those of you with an existing mortgage that was sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009, the Obama Administration has unveiled changes to its Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) intended to enable more borrowers, especially those with a home that has decreased in value, to refinance into mortgages with a lower interest rate. To learn more, start at www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or call the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-4673.
New Help with Student Loans
The Obama Administration has announced that it will provide relief to an estimated 1.6 million borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt. Starting in 2012, eligible borrowers will be able to limit their monthly federal student loan payments to 10 percent of their discretionary income. The Administration's initiative also will enable borrowers to consolidate federal loans and reduce their interest rates under a special option available in January 2012. For more information, start at the U.S. Department of Education press release at http://go.usa.gov/X8k.
In addition, as a result of a 2008 law change, colleges receiving federal aid are now required to post on their Web sites a net-price calculator intended to give prospective students a better idea of the likely cost of attending that school. You can find the colleges with the highest and lowest net prices at http://collegecost.ed.gov.
Tax Time Cometh: Ways to Save
As you prepare to file your taxes, keep in mind some money-saving tips. Look into free tax help. Remember that direct deposit into your own bank account is the fastest, safest way to receive a tax refund; if you file your return electronically with the IRS and have your refund direct deposited, expect to receive that money within about 10 days. Also, consider allocating part of your refund to go directly into a savings account or to purchase a U.S. Savings Bond. The remainder can still be used to pay down high-interest debt.
For more information, see the Fall 2010 FDIC Consumer News (www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall10/happyreturns.html).
Last Updated 11/28/2011